RIP: Tony DeZuniga

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Tony DeZuniga, co-creator of Jonah Hex and The Black Orchid, has passed away at age 71. He suffered a stroke in April and had been battling a series of health problems since then. DeZuniga was a seminal figure in the “Filipino Invasion” of the ’70s and ’80s which saw artists like Nestor Redondo, Alex Nino, and Alfredo Alcala entering the US market. He helped introduce many of the artists to US editors and then served as an agent for several years. Like most of the artists in this wave, DeZuniga was an impeccable draftsman who could draw just about anything. He’s best remembered for his contributions to the barbarians and Westerns of the day, but he also drew romance, adventure, superhero, horror….like we said, he could draw anything.
Mark Evanier offers some history:

Tony entered the flourishing comic book industry in The Philippines in 1957, working as a letterer to finance his college education at the University of Santa Tomas. Despite warnings that a Filipino artist could not crack the American marketplace, Tony came here several times to try and do so and in 1970 secured work at DC, inking other artists at first, then doing complete art. His style was unique, at least to American comic books, and exciting for its blend of realism and energy.


Here’s a longer piece with much more of this history.

Artist Gerry Alanguilan offers his own tribute:

On a personal level, I found Mang Tony’s presence at conventions gave me a sense of security. He was a rock. An anchor. A steady presence I knew I could count on. He was there every time without fail. I knew that if I went to a comics convention, he would be there. And that was comforting to me. He was, and still is a huge inspiration. I’m not exactly a very young man anymore, but whenever I think of Mang Tony, who was still active and still pushing his artistic boundaries well into his 70′s, it was terribly, terribly inspiring. I wish I could be as active and creative when I reach his age.


DeZuniga and his wife Tina were kindly and much liked on the convention circuit, as testified to by collaborator Jimmy Palmiotti:


Here’s a video interview with him from a few years back.

The legends are leaving us. Condolences to his many friends and family.
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Comments

  1. horatio weisfeld says:

    He’s been part of my life since I was a little kid, and he’ll be with me until I’m gone.

  2. We are losing our legends. Tony was a magnificent draftsmen and illustrator. He understood design, composition and the use of lights and darks. His inking on many Buscema books brought the art to a new level. I am lucky to have a few of his originals and they embrace me everyday on the walls of my room.

  3. I really hate hearing this. He was one of the best, and will be deeply missed. Condolences to the family.

  4. It was an honor to have been present when Mr. DeZuniga received the Inkpot Award at Comic-Con; and grateful to have listened to him speak of his story with Gerry there as moderator.

    Condolences to his family and friends.

  5. Al™ says:

    Sorry to hear of Tony’s death. I read a lot of his work especially in the 70′s, so much that I can’t recall all of the different titles. Black Orchid and Jonah Hex, as mentioned above, were very very well done.

  6. Tony will be truly missed, for being a great person and a legendary artist. It was an honor to have known him these last few years.

    Always eager to help, he was a judge for the Xero Error art competition I had organized recently. RIP Tony.

  7. horatio weisfeld says:

    Watching the vid:

    Love to hear the (quiet) pride he takes in Jonah Hex.

    That series shaped my young mind / LOL.

  8. Otistfirefly says:

    RIP Tony. You were, and shall remain, the Man. What Kubert is to war, you are to westerns, and neither genre will ever see a better interpreter..

  9. Chris Duffy says:

    What a loss. Just such a good storyteller, draftsman–a great inker on other artists too. He is THE Jonah Hex artist and for my money, the best comic book artist to draw Doc Savage (thanks for the splash here).

  10. Vince Argondezzi says:

    I’m sorry to hear about this. I never had the pleasure of meeting the man, but I loved his work in the industry, and was honored when he inked my run on Infinity Inc. His body of work, in combination with such high quality, is astounding. And the creator of Jonah Hex, to boot.

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